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Teen pleads guilty in shooting at Nelson County store parking lot

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An Arrington teenager will be committed as a serious offender for a minimum of three years after pleading guilty Monday to four felonies in Nelson Circuit Court.

Ti’lor Lewis Harper, 16, was charged with attempted armed robbery, shooting into an occupied vehicle and use of a firearm in the commission of a felony for his involvement in a July 14 shooting at the Corner Market convenience store in Shipman. Judge Michael Doucette amended Harper’s previous attempted murder charge to attempted aggravated malicious wounding during Monday’s hearing, and a previous related charge of extortion in writing was not pursued.

Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Will Flory told Doucette the Nelson County Sheriff’s Office received a call about shots fired at the Corner Market on July 14. Witnesses on the scene told deputies a vehicle had fled after a shot was fired, and a member of the victim’s family later called the sheriff’s office to report the victim had been involved.

The victim said she met with Harper to purchase nicotine vapes from him, first at the Lovingston Food Lion, then later that day at the Corner Market.

According to Flory, the victim backed into a parking space outside the Corner Market, and Harper arrived with two other individuals.

The victim said Harper “tried to raise the price on her” and that he then pulled a pink-and-black firearm, placed it against her arm and said he was robbing her.

The victim said that, as she drove away, she heard the rearview window of her vehicle break. Officers later obtained security footage from the Corner Market of a vehicle exiting and Harper extending a hand holding a gun toward the vehicle.

Flory added when officers processed the scene, they found a bullet round and shell casing in the victim’s vehicle, which they were able to link to a pink-and-black handgun that Harper gave to a third individual after the incident.

Flory said the spent round traveled through the vehicle’s rearview window and was found lodged in the back of the driver’s side headrest.

Harper’s defense attorney, Chuck Felmlee, said he concurred with much of the evidence Flory presented but told the court Harper and his friends instead met with the victim to purchase marijuana from her.

According to Felmlee, the victim didn’t have any marijuana when she first met Harper and his friends at Food Lion, so she left to get some and later met Harper at the Corner Market.

Felmlee agreed the victim and his client had a conversation out the window of her car while she left the vehicle running and that they came to a disagreement about pricing.

Felmlee said Harper acknowledges what he did was reckless, is very apologetic and admitted to being under the influence of marijuana at the time of the shooting. He said Harper has been earning straight-A grades during his time at the Lynchburg Detention Center and has plans to pursue post-secondary education.

Doucette found Harper guilty as an adult for attempted armed robbery and shooting at an occupied vehicle, sentencing him to 10 years on both charges but suspending both sentences.

Doucette also found Harper guilty as a juvenile for attempted aggravated malicious wounding and use of firearm in the commission of a felony and committed him as a serious offender to the Department of Juvenile Justice for a minimum of three years, not to exceed his 21st birthday.

Harper also will have to pay $2,187 for repairs to the victim’s vehicle.

In August, Harper was the subject of an unrelated incident at Nelson County High School, in which video was taken of Sheriff David Hill and Major Larry Cindrick pinning Harper, then a sophomore, to the ground and struggling to handcuff him. Virginia State Police investigated the incident, and Harper later faced felony assault charges in juvenile court.

On Sept. 4, days after the high school incident, a rally in support of Harper was held outside the Nelson County courthouse, with about 50 protesters and about seven counter-protesters turning out in Lovingston. On Nov. 3, Deputy Commonwealth’s attorney Erik Laub confirmed those assault charges were not pursued — or nolle prosequi — per a special prosecutor.

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